An Outfit for Every Occasion
When Columbus County native Savannah Elliott heard that the owner of COCO & Company was selling her business in Calabash, she knew that it was meant for her.
“Taking over a business in the middle of a pandemic was a challenge, that’s for sure, but the chance to run this business for many years to come was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Elliott says. “I get to set the vision for COCO & Company and choose all of the items this store sells. Several times each year I go to a market in Atlanta, Georgia, and pick out unique pieces of women’s clothing, jewelry, and home and gift items such as vases, lamps, green topiaries in planters, lotions, etc.
“There’s something for everyone including baby items and coffee mugs for the men. Because I’m constantly picking up new items the inventory changes often. My mother comes along with me on the ride down South and she gives her comments and offers her opinions about what pieces would be best for the shop.”
COCO & Company has been in existence for about eight years and Elliott notes that it has its loyal customers. “Roughly 50 percent of my customers are people who have second homes in the Calabash area and visit here on vacation whenever they can,” Elliott says. “The other half are local residents who are here year ‘round and know they can stop in any time for new clothes or gifts for special occasions.”
The store has two themes: one is that COCO & Company is a “home & lifestyle boutique” and the other is that it’s a “curated collection of must haves.”
Customer Kimberly Barbano lives in Horry County and knows the southeastern part of Brunswick County well because she’s visited her grandparents in Sunset Beach since 1988. “Whenever I’m near COCO & Company I make it a point to stop in because I know that I’ll find one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing,” Barbano says. “What I wear is not what you’ll see on other people at parties and get-togethers and I like that. Plus owner Savannah Elliott is excellent at making recommendations just for me – telling me which outfits look great and which accessories complement the clothes. People don’t get that type of personalized service at the big box stores and I like the quality of the clothes better, too.”
For Savannah Elliott becoming the owner of COCO & Company on July 1, 2021, was a dream come true. Growing up in Tabor City, Elliott attended South Columbus High School for two years then the family moved to Horry County. After graduating from Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach five years ago Elliott started attending Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Banking and Consumer Finance, Elliott had the chance to do an internship at the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation.
“The Corporation’s work involves attracting new businesses to the region and one of my roles was to manage the QuickBooks software and handle the everyday financials,” Elliott says. “It was during my senior year of college and during the internship that I learned about using the QuickBooks software and the financial aspect of running a business.”
“Putting my business degree to work in a retail store is for me a perfect combination because I’ve always loved fashion. Coordinating outfits is something I enjoy doing plus I’ve had good role models. As a girl I remember that my Grandma Cynthia would take me clothes shopping – especially for back-to-school clothes – and we always had a great time looking at what was available and choosing outfits that were comfortable and looked just right on me. She loves clothes and seeing whatever is in style and her enthusiasm always wore off on me. It’s a passion I’ve always maintained.”
For new customers, Elliott relies on word-of-mouth recommendations from existing customers and on social media.
“Being able to showcase new products on Facebook has been great publicity and the same is true for Instagram,” Elliott says. “These platforms are free and lots of people see them as soon as I post them. I get talking to the customers and people come from all over to check out COCO & Company. One couple even drove from Raleigh to Calabash because they had seen me post a particular outfit. Hearing stories like that makes running this shop even more rewarding!”
In addition to the social media posts Elliott has a billboard prominently located on Route 17 in Little River, across from Chianti South, that advertises the store. “COCO & Company isn’t located on Route 17 and it’s down the road from Callahan’s and Ella’s Restaurant so giving a little shout-out to people as they drive to and from Brunswick County and Horry County has been a good thing,” Elliott says. “Sometimes being visible pays off.”
Her familiarity with Calabash – the “seafood capital of the world” as many people call it – goes back decades.
“When the business opportunity came up at COCO & Company with an old family friend who was selling the business, I was so pleased that it was in Calabash,” Elliott says. “I have lots of fond memories of visiting Calabash as a child. Many times on Sundays after church my mom, dad, two sisters and I would get in the car and drive about 40 minutes from Tabor City to eat lunch at our favorite seafood place. We would hang out for a few hours taking in the boats, the water and the beautiful scenery of Calabash. Watching people fish and getting to spend time with my family made for some relaxing days.”
Elliott shies away from selling the touristy T-shirts that are often for sale in the shops along the Grand Strand and she prefers to offer unique items of clothing and pieces of jewelry. “People want their fashion statements to stand out and my mission each day is to offer things that are new and one-of-a-kind,” Elliott says. “There’s no place like the coast for making casual clothes pop at parties. Who doesn’t like that?”